Some awkward direction ‘Eclipse’d by the talent at TWA
Third Wall Academy is at it again and this year they’re back with Simon Armitage’s Eclipse, a decidedly dark tale about the interrogation of a group of teens after one of their members goes mysteriously missing during a solar eclipse. Having seen last year’s Prince of Denmark, I was looking forward to seeing what this year’s group of youths had to offer and I was not to be disappointed. Though some of the directorial choices are a little confusing and awkward at times, the performances given by this ensemble should certainly be commended. These kids show an awful lot of promise and I hope to see more from them in the future.
The story focuses around a group of teens anxiously awaiting the last eclipse of the millennium. Having prepared for this event for some time, the friends’ plans are thrown slightly astray with the appearance of the strange Lucy Lime. Never disclosing exactly from where she came, Lucy sets out to question the status quo of the group and push each one to their very limit. When the world finally goes dark, Lucy’s disappearance is just as inexplicable as her arrival. Through the theatrical convention of the interrogation scenes, we are given a look into the perspectives of each individual character and their account of the events that took place that afternoon at the beach. A smart choice in text for a group of youths it gives them both the chance to act as an ensemble while also having individual monologic moments with the audience.
The criticisms I have of this piece are concerned mainly with some of the choices made by director James Richardson, such as why the interrogation chair was so uncomfortably close to the audience and why the Britishisms in the text are kept. Further, some of the props seem a little out of place: a switch blade would be much more appropriate for Tulip as opposed to what looks like a steak knife and the rubber ducky that Lucy uses to switch with Klondike’s feather is a rather oddly convenient thing to find on a beach.
Regardless of these few criticisms, I think the cast of Eclipse does a great job with Armitage’s poetic text. Moragh McDougall as Tulip has an excellent toughness to her which makes her well suited to this tom-boy role, I think she could easily take her performance up to the next level by working on her softness and vulnerability. Adrien Pyke, as Glue Boy, often stole the show for me showing great moments of lucidity in his often foggy existence. Helen Thai as the curious Lucy Lime maintains good presence on stage and definitely succeeds in making the audience suspicious of her motives and desires. Patrick Bugby as Klondike does well as the leader of the pack, but could go even further in making his stakes clear on stage. i.e. how does Lucy Lime affect this character and the decisions he makes? Finally, last but not least, Leah Morris and Stephanie Velichkin do an incredible job of portraying twins Jane and Polly. The character switch from them being a solid unit to being individuals is clear and their “baptism” scene and becoming “basically beautiful” is quite moving.
Ultimately, I am impressed by the level of commitment and professionalism found in this ensemble and I know with further coaching they will continue to flourish. I look forward to what these kids will get up to next as their talent bodes well for the future generation of Ottawa theatre practitioners.